Yesterday, I managed to cut my finger. I still don’t know how I actually did this, but I suddenly became aware of pain, looked down and found blood oozing from a long cut that looked like I’d sliced the finger on something sharp.
The Bible describes itself as being sharper than a double-edged sword (Heb 4:12). The Message version brings the metaphor more up-to-date and talks about a surgeon’s scalpel. Part of the Bible’s job is to jolt us into awareness of the disparity between God’s way of doing things and ours and to prick us (cut us) so that we are changed.
This morning, I continued my daily reading plan and found myself, once again, at 1 Corinthians 13. This is such a familiar chapter that it’s easy to skim over the words defining and describing love. Today, I found myself arrested by this mirror, as sharply aware of my failings to live up to this definition as I was yesterday by the pain in my finger.
If we substitute our name for the word ‘love’ in the passage (1 Cor 13:4-7 in particular), we quickly see our shortcomings and understand the limitations of our love. And that’s when we’re thinking about those we really do love! God wants us to love our enemies with this kind of love, not just our friends and family! (Matt 5:43-48) God’s word has the power and capacity to cut us, to wound us, to hurt us… but it does this not to harm us but to transform us and make us more like Jesus. Just as a surgeon inflicts short-term pain on us in order to bring long-term relief from pain and healing to us, God’s word is there not to make us feel comfortable or nice, but to show us truth and reality and to bring our lives into conformity with God’s truth and reality. Don’t flinch from the cuts of the Word. They are there to shape us further into the image of God.